The Atari VCS is a crowdfunded linux gaming PC-console hybrid which was supposed to ship early this year. The console has been delayed several times over, and we might have some insight into why now that the chief designer, Rob Wyatt, has sued Atari over unpaid wages.
Allegedly, Atari Gamebox has not paid Wyatt more than $260,000 for six months of work on designing the console. Wyatt left Atari in October over the unpaid salary and has filed suit in the US Federal Court system in Colorado. According to Polygon’s report on the lawsuit, “when [Wyatt] demanded full payment in October, Atari claimed that he had delayed the console and hadn’t performed his work on the schedule they agreed upon.”
Wyatt’s suit also alleges that it was “Atari’s own mismanagement of the Console Project that was the couse of or reason for the delayed launch of the Console Project” and not because of Wyatt’s company Tin Giant. Wyatt is suing Atari for both the unpaid wages and for defamation as Atari CEO Frederic Chesnais and Atari executive Michael Arzt made false statements to the public about Tin Giant.
According to VentureBeat, “Chesnais declined to comment in a statement, saying that he had not received a copy of the lawsuit yet.”
The Atari VCS is to be Atari’s first console in over 20 years, and it’s more of a gaming PC than a proper console. The VCS was originally announced in 2017 as the Ataribox, and was successfully crowdfunded on Indiegogo in 2018. The VCS was initially scheduled to launch in the spring of 2019, however Atari announced a delay in March 2019, then moved the launch date to March 2020 only three months later. In February 2020, Atari confirmed that its factory in China had closed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, further delaying the console’s shipments.
As of March 20, 2020, Atari has claimed to have enough parts to manufacture its first 500 Atari VCS units to fulfill Indiegogo pre-orders. The company did not specify how many of the 500 units would be shipped to Indiegogo backers, or when the official retail version would launch.
The Atari VCS is a mini Linux gaming PC, with a high-end AMD processor, 4 GB of RAM, with 4K and HDR support. It will retail for $249.99 USD.